Did you notice…
…when Data’s faking a sneeze in the mirror, he looks like Robin Williams?
…Riker indicated the members of his away team by pointing at them?
…Geordi took no precautions before opening the storage area containing Lore?
…Argyle is now THE chief engineer?
…Riker’s over-the-top grin when Picard talked about Data as a different form of life?
…that they took a look at Data’s robot guts?
…Lore started lying the moment he opened his eyes?
…the crew exercised no precautions before teaching Lore how to fly the Enterprise?
…Data exercised no precautions after learning that Lore was bad, allowing him complete access to the ship’s computers?
…Data is susceptible to poisoned Champagne?
What does Data mean when he says he doesn’t adequately understand sneezing?
The ins and outs of it are fairly straight forward, and I suspect he could read up on it easily. Practicing sneezing, however, does indicate shallow comprehension as sneezing is involuntary. It’s something humans are programed to do. Not something we practice doing. You would think young Wesley might’ve pointed that out. Genius… yea right.
Unless Data simply wants to add depth to his illusion of being human by approximating a human sneeze.
However, I suspect that Data actually means that he doesn’t know how it feels to sneeze. If so, why doesn’t he come straight out and say that?
If I were to guess at an answer, I might say he isn’t even aware himself that this is his real reason. He might be sublimating his desire to feel what humans feel into a study of humanity.
I can’t help wondering if this desire to be human is something he created himself, and not something that he was programed for. Lore was dismantled for being too human, it wouldn’t make sense for Data to be programed to want to be more human.
I suspect that Lore was built with human feelings like ambition and desire, but lacked humanity. Data was designed to have more humanism to him, which meant a human drive, but without feelings. So, he’s incomplete. The human drive inspires him to be better, so the unintended consequence of the combination of the two is that he wants to be more like a human. After all, he was designed to be like a human, so that means being a better human is a natural goal to strive for.
Thus he wants to know how it feels to be human, even when it means something as simple as sneezing.
Why is Data Humanoid Shaped?
Geordi’s answer to that wasn’t satisfying. He said it was so that humans would be more comfortable with him. Though with the uncanny valley and all, I suspect that his close approximation to being human creates more discomfort.
The more obvious answer is that Dr. Noonian Soong was trying to create a positronic brain as complex as the human brain. It follows naturally from that he would make a human body to go with the human brain. What do you think?
In the Battle, Wesley was scolded by Picard for not using the comms to inform the crew about the approaching ship. I’d like to ask this:
How is Wesley going to learn his lesson about using the communicators when the people training him are constantly using him as a messenger?
He goes to Data to tell him they’re ready for him on the bridge.
He goes there again (at Riker’s orders) to check up on Data.
Then in the end Picard tells him to go to the bridge and report everything OK.
No offense captain, but you might want to do that with the communicator.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that
Once the pieces of Lore are shipboard, the crew starts to act weird around Data. There are awkward pauses and overly friendly attempts to compensate for any hurt feelings Data might have.
People are like, Hey he’s an android, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Because deep down inside they feel machines are inferior to humans. Or that a machine is not a person. Yet they’re confronted with this fact that Data is a person. So the conception of personhood they held before can no longer apply.
They’re forced to reconsider their own beliefs.
The awkwardness is the result of that ongoing process, so the cool bit of captaining from Picard this episode is that he acknowledges it.
He asks everyone to bring it to the forefront of their consciousness. This is when he says, “Legitimate questions about this need not be asked apologetically. Everyone is uncomfortable and for no logical reason.”
Data’s is a different form of life, he says. Not the same as us, but not lesser either.
Again he serves as the crew’s moral center.
Other Crew Roles
Again we see Geordi serving as the crews’ eyes (finds the passage and goes to check out the crystalline entity.)
Again memory is an important theme with Data, but this time around his memory is proven less reliable than it has in the past. He can’t retrieve memories easily. But going back to the lab started providing stimulus to jog his memories.This imperfection made him seem much more human. (So did getting poisoned.)
What do you mean by human?
The core of this story is the pursuit of being human. Isn’t that odd considering that there are other aliens in the Federation and even on the Enterprise?
The more I watched it the more I questioned whether or not human was the wrong word. I thought person would be better than human and personhood better than humanity.
Person as the right word
Picard’s speech suggests that the question comes down to whether or not Data is alive, and he says that Data is in fact alive. However his form of life is decidedly different from human life. Both he and Data agree on that. (Not only is he as good as a human in many respects, in some he is better.)
Despite his not being human, he possesses the qualities necessary for being a person. He is alive, and he has loyalties, family, friends, and complex yearnings.
However so does Worf and so does Deanna, and we don’t hear these kinds of discussions leveled at them. Perhaps that’s because they’re not androids, and perhaps it’s because the crew is struggling to redefine the idea of a person.
Still, I don’t think you can replace the word human with person in every occurrence, so I can see the case for human being exactly the right word.
Human as the right word
Data was constructed by a human on a human science colony. He was made to resemble a human. And he aspires to experience things that humans do (ie sneezing). Plus, you don’t get the sense from Data’s behavior that he doesn’t already see himself as a person. This seems to suggest Data wants not only to be recognized as a person, but he wants to be more like a human from the planet Earth.
Who would want to be like a Klingon anyway?
Do you get the feeling that as the characters reconsider their ideas of equality and personhood and sentient life and all that, that the writers for the show are doing it too? In turn, as they do this, we the viewers do it as well?
Both Data and Lore define themselves in relation to humans. Both see themselves as superior to humans, but they take it in opposite directions. Lore sees them as enemies that need be manipulated and defeated. He says it’s because he was made more human. He was given a full range of emotions, including ambition.
But Data has ambition too. He wants to be human. He sees the inferiority of humans as its own superiority.
Why? He wants to experience what it feels like to be human, and he has a moral center, which Lore does not.
Capital Punishment and Sibling Rivalry
But don’t you wonder what’s actually motivating Lore? He hates humans, but then wouldn’t you if you were in his shoes?
If Data is a person, then so is Lore. Yet the colonist dismantled Lore. Let’s assume he committed a crime. That means capital punishment might not be gone from Federation after all.
This is how I see it: the colonists didn’t like him, so they decided to build a nicer version. That hurt Lore’s feelings, so he turned the colonists over to the crystalline entity, but before the big crystal in the sky got there, they tore Lore apart.
When the Enterprise crew reassembled Lore, he woke up to find a larger number of humans all in love with that same replacement and overly suspicious of him. (Rightly so since he’s lying from the get go). He had every reason to expect a good dismantling in the near future. So of course, he’s ready to turn them over to the only ally he’s ever known.
Lonely Among the ‘Verse
Is there anything else like the Crystalline Entity? I ask because I think there’s a bond of loneliness between Lore and the entity.
Before Lore was dismantled there was only one other thing like him in the universe, Data. The Crystalline Entity is alone in the universe.
Once the colonists turn against Lore he too is alone, so he connects with the entity because of that feeling.
Data could become as bad as Lore, but he connects to the crew and that connection keeps from being lonely and allying himself with others.
The connections we make to others is what keeps us from going to the dark side.
Morals, messages, and meanings
- Be prepared to re-examine your ideas of others –
- Be accepting of life in it’s many forms – Wasn’t it cool how the doctor was the one working on Data and not an engineer? It just shows how different the conception of him is as opposed to another machine.
- Hide your off switch
- There is more to being human than physical attributes – Data can’t sneeze and he doesn’t have the emotions Lore has, but he has family, loyalty, and trust. That makes him more human than Lore.
- Work before Family – when Dr. C questions Data’s spying on Lore, Picard defends him as being a good Starfleet officer.
- Build good relationships with others – lest they take you apart.
Does it hold up?
From a production standpoint: no.
That 80s music is terrible. The sets are bad. The two shots of Data and Lore are just awkward.
But Brent Spiner’s acting is good.
By the way, Tasha Yar was fine as a character in this one, but Denise Crosby’s acting wasn’t great.
From a story standpoint: no.
I like how Data’s origins were slowly revealed, but after 20 something years?
Why are the crew working so hard to prove Lore’s point about human’s being gullible?
What’s up with the Crystalline Entity? Shouldn’t we learn more?
Why didn’t it destroy the ship when Lore was beamed into space?
Wasn’t that the plan?
From an idea standpoint: Oh yea.
There is so much here to discuss. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.
I feel like the episode only scratched the surface.
I enjoyed thinking about this one SO much. I’m really looking forward to hearing what you pull out of it.
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